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Gardening above Buried cable in front yard

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Joined: 3/18/2007
Posts: 3
Posted: Mar/18/2007 3:01 AM PST

I have a handkerchief-sized front yard. I wish to plant some colorful annauls around the foot of the mail post (which is the only vertical structure in an otherwise flat and plain lawnscape). But, only now I learnt that there is buried cable running smack under the mail post. I don't know how the builder managed to place the post right above a live cable! Anyways, now I wish to know if it is even remotely possible to plant some annuals around the mail post, without electrocuting myself.
How should I attempt to remove the sod without chopping the cable? I thought about adding a raised bed around the post to let me plant the annuals. But, I think I still need to do some digging (to prepare the ground for the bed).
1. Could anyone suggest how to remove lawn-sod without using any sharp tools.
2. Also, please suggest me some nice colorful blooming plants that can be planted very shallow.
If someone has tackled a similar problem, i would like to know their approach.
Did I mention that I am brand-new to gardening?

Note: I am cross-posting here in hope of getting some suggestions.
fozbot3 blog photos
Joined: 1/18/2005
Location: Michigan
Posts: 7893
Posted: Mar/18/2007 3:05 AM PST

you don't have to dig very deep for annuals. i'd use my hands w/gloves on them. do you know how far down the cable is? is it an electrical cable? i'd sure check that first!
dove45 photos
Joined: 1/29/2006
Location: Oliver B.C. Canada
Posts: 424
Posted: Mar/18/2007 3:38 AM PST

Welcome subdivisiongardener to GG. Someone will be able to help you with your little challenge. Just sit back and start reading and you never know where you will find the answer. Again welcome to GG. Tina
Joined: 6/06/2005
Location: Ontario, Canada..Zone 4
Posts: 8401
Posted: Mar/18/2007 11:43 AM PST

Get the hydro company to come in and do a locate. They should be able to tell you how deep the cable is too. There will be a regulation in effect as to minimum depth that it can be buried, I would think.
Joined: 8/19/2006
Location: Oklahoma Zone 6b
Posts: 179
Posted: Mar/18/2007 12:49 PM PST

Chances are that it is a Phone or TV cable most electric cable are overhead.
cazimere photos
Joined: 7/03/2005
Posts: 2064
Posted: Mar/18/2007 1:33 PM PST

If your in the US, call Miss Utility. Tell them your want all utilities marked because your going to do some digging. (this is a free service) That way you will know where all your utilities are for future reference. They will mark with spray paint that will weather away in a few weeks. Different color paint for each utility.
Joined: 3/18/2007
Posts: 3
Posted: Mar/19/2007 11:37 PM PST

Hi all,
Thanks for the immediate replies/suggestions.
Yes, I have already had the utility company mark out their lines for me. that was how i came to know that the mail post is above the telephone cable.
But, because they came when I was at work, I don't know the depth of the cable.
I am sure glad to learn that i don't have to plant my annuals very deep. that relieves my anxiety.
Now if someone can suggest how to remove lawn sod without using any sharp tools like a shovel, I will move on to the next step. If everything goes well, I will have my lawn photo (with the new plants) uploaded to this forum by the weekend!
I am getting excited! I am glad i found this forum!
Joined: 7/07/2003
Location: The Garden State
Posts: 849
Posted: Mar/19/2007 11:58 PM PST

Hi Sub and welcome to GG As you see we have alot of folks who are happy to jump in and help you with your garden questions. I have one for you-- you said you are going to plant your annuals this weekend and you are new to gardening . Do you know what planting zone you are in? You didn't post what state you live in so I can't guess your zone --if you are not in the warmer states zone 8 or above this might be a little early to start planting your garden . I am in zone 6 and won't be putting in any flowers or veggies until after Mothers day . So give us a hint of where you live and we can help you find your planting zone.
Joined: 3/18/2007
Posts: 3
Posted: Mar/20/2007 3:17 AM PST

Swindyi, I live in zone 7. It's being quite sunny and bright here, for almost 3 weeks now. Is it safe to be planting now? I just started watering our bermuda lawn, thinking that it's ok.... Please let me know if I should wait a little longer to start watering my lawn/ planting a garden.
sweetlebee blog photos
Joined: 5/09/2005
Posts: 19587
Posted: Mar/20/2007 2:24 PM PST

After you remove the grass, add a topsoil and compost mix at the base of your mailbox post. Annuals that are planted shallowly can dry up pretty quick in summer sun, so be sure you water and mulch well. I planted allysum in full sun last year and it didn't make it through the heat wave.

In zone 8, we wait till May to plant summer annuals. The days may be warm and sunny, but if the ground is still cold, they won't be happy and won't perform as well. However, a raised bed of topsoil will be warmer than native soil. Annuals are heavy feeders, so you'll need to fertilize them all summer long.

Now for the fun part--let's help you choose some annuals! You'll want something that looks good all summer, and you don't want something that never looks good, like marigolds. What colors do you like? Do you like small flowers or big showy flowers? Do you just want to use just one type of annual or a few? How big is the circle around the post going to be?
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